The beginning of January is a good time to look at how we do things and how we can do it better. Here I talk about some of the ways I keep organized. Maybe they’ll help you too.
Some of us are quite organized, and some are not at all. I am one of those people who are quite organized. For me, it’s a matter of comfort. I am very uncomfortable with clutter and disorganization; I like to stay on top of things so I keep organized.
Since I much prefer to be organized, I have learned to do things a certain way to insure that I don’t forget things, that I know where things are, and that the desired outcome is achieved as quickly and efficiently as possible. Much less frustrating that way. (Those of you who know me, already know that I’m not good with frustration. LOL).
So I thought I’d share some tips with you on how I keep track of things. I am sure you’ve heard all those things before, but sometimes you just need to hear one simple thing that you can do that would make all the difference. I hope you’ll find that one
thing in here.
On a personal level, it’s very simple. I keep a planner on my desk. It’s one of those that shows a whole week at a time, with lots of space to write things down. So that’s my secret: I write everything down in there. Things to be done, deadlines, reminders, all get written down in the appropriate day. When they’re done, I tick them off. If I’m not going to get them done that week, I cross them off and write them in again for another day. If it’s something that I keep putting off for some reason, I write it on a sticky and just move the sticky along until it’s done. (If you find that the sticky doesn’t want to stick any more, maybe it’s time to either do it, or forget it. LOL).
- ** Here’s the key: at the end of the week, before I turn the page to the next week, I make sure that everything is either ticked off (done) or crossed off (moved) and there’s nothing left pending. That way, I never have to worry about going back to previous weeks to see if I’ve missed something.
I have a file cabinet in my office. Best purchase I ever made. That allows me to keep everything that needs to be kept, organized in folders that are named and filed alphabetically. I always know where to look to find something. And I don’t hang on to things that don’t need to be kept. If it’s something that I can find online any time, I don’t keep it. This may sound redundant, but throwing things away that you don’t really need, really helps eliminate clutter.
- ** Here’s another key: don’t keep a pile of papers on your desk of things you want to get to. That’s clutter, and you’ll get to the point where you have no idea what’s in the pile anymore, and you will miss things that could be important. Put a note in your planner, and file the paper away in the cabinet, where it belongs, where you can find it when you need it.
I have a cabinet for my painting supplies, one of those with 2 doors and 3 shelves. SO convenient. I keep the paints together on one shelf, the mediums and stuff on another, and anything else on the other shelf. Anything that doesn’t fit, or that isn’t used very often, I keep in a bin, out of the way. My frames and show supplies are in the garage. It may sound scattered, but I do the best I can with the space that I have. And I know where everything is, and I can get to anything, anytime. That’s as close to perfect as I can get.
- ** I use plastic containers to organize and store my paints. I keep all my fluid acrylics together (upright) in a large one (large but only about 2″ high, so I can see everything inside). I keep the tube paints standing up in a container that’s slightly taller (about 4″ high). Everything is visible and easily accessible.
- ** When I open a new bottle or tube of paint, I take a dab of the paint and put it on the lid. That allows me to quickly find a colour. What helps even more is that I loosely organize the fluid acrylics, the ones in the large container, by colour. No, no, I’m not that obsessive. I just tend to put the yellows and the reds on one side, the blues and greens on the other side, the rest in the middle. It’s not perfect, but again, I always know where to look for things.
As an artist, you need to keep a record of each painting, so you know all pertinent details about that painting, where it’s been shown, where it is at present, when and whom it’s been sold to.
I’ve tried several methods to do this, and in the end, I adopted the simplest and easiest one. I have index cards and an index card box. When I finish a painting, I prepare a card for that painting with the title, size, medium, year completed, price, framing details; whatever is pertinent to that painting that you need to keep track of. In the box, I have 2 main sections:
1 – paintings for sale (current paintings available for sale)
2 – paintings not for sale (paintings sold, given away, painted over or destroyed).
Every time that painting goes anywhere, I pull the card and write on it, like so:
2011 – April – GAC juried show, theme ‘Cranes’ – YES, or Declined
2011 – November – GAC fall show
2012 – January – Displayed at Dr. Smith’s office
When the painting is out of my hands, ie on display somewhere, I put the card at the front of the box, so I always know quickly which paintings are out and where they are. When they return, I put the card back into the ‘paintings for sale’ section.
I also have a section for shows, where I write pieces shown for each show. That’s an extra step that may not be necessary, but I find it useful to know at a glance what pieces I entered or showed for any particular show.
Do you end up with hundreds of emails in your Inbox, to the point where you don’t know what’s in there anymore, or what might be important that you might have missed? Staying on top of email is pretty important, or else, what is the point of having email in the first place?
- ** With emails, just like with paper mail, you need to delete what you have seen and don’t need to keep. If it’s a reminder of something, put it in your planner and delete the email. Only keep those that contain information that you’re going to need later.
There are some emails that need to be kept long term. Open a folder in your email program that you call something like ‘Keepers’ and move the email in there. That way, you still have the information but it’s not cluttering up your Inbox. Opening folders is a great way to organize emails that you wish to keep. I have a separate folder for each of the clubs that I belong to, and one for family. I also have a folder called ‘Temporary’ for emails that I need to keep for a while, but not long-term. I just go into the folder once in a while and delete anything I no longer need.
- ** As to your computer files, and photos, need I say it? Open folders and sub-folder so you can organize your files and photos in a way that will be logical and useful to you.
Organizing your photos by date is not particularly useful. For example, when I go on a vacation, let’s say to Hawaii, I open a folder called, you guessed it, ‘Hawaii’ and I put my photos in there. If I go back to Hawaii in the future, I go into that folder and open 2 sub-folders, with the year as the name of the folder, like 2008 and 2011. I put the photos in the appropriate folder for that year. As the years go by, you have no idea how useful that is. You can always find the photos you’re looking for. I have folders for Christmas; vacations; for each of my children and grandchildren, subdivided into birthdays, ballet, football, etc. When you have a lot of photos, this is incredibly useful.
As to the rest of your computer files, the same principle applies. Keep all your document files in a folder called something like ‘My Files’, and then subdivide them by subject.
- ** Folders and sub-folders is the answer to keeping your computer files organized.
Here is a quick list of the things to think about if you want to be more organized:
- • get a planner for your desk and write everything in it
- • organize your papers in file folders
- • don’t keep anything you don’t really need, and organize what you keep
- • keep your paints and supplies sorted for easy access
- • keep records for each painting on an index card
- • keep your email inbox under control by deleting what you don’t need anymore and organizing the rest into folders
- • keep your computer files and photos organized in folders and sub-folders.
So there you are. I hope that you will have found something in here that will help you organize yourself a little better. That way you can RELAX knowing you will not miss a deadline, or lose information you need.
“The only difference between a mob and a trained army, is organization. (Calvin Coolidge)